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It has been 15 years since Hermès launched its last dedicated men’s fragrance, Terre d’Hermès. The spicy, woody fragrance by the house’s past perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena, struck the nose with rich benzoin and was rounded out by raw materials like grapefruit, cedar, and shiso. Men who wore the scent were in line with Ellena’s story of that time—a journey imbued with strength and poetry; a moment symbolic with raw materials and metamorphosis.
Admittedly, the essence, the drive, and the complexities of men have evolved since its release in 2006, nuanced by changes in both society and environment. The metamorphosis has completed a full cycle, revealing men that are informed by their relationship with nature, and also with culture. This inspired the house’s perfumer, Christine Nagel, to create a new fragrance, H24, to interpret the contemporary Hermès man. This man, as imagined by Hermès’s men’s artistic director, Véronique Nichanian, is measured not just by achievement but by humanity, and how he uses his intuition to approach the world with care and passion.
Nagel’s inspiration for H24 started here, with the creative work of Nichanian. “I found many creative parallels and surprising similarities between us,” Nagel told Whitewall in advance of its release in March, “particularly in relation to materials, with this impression of being able to touch the material simply by looking at it. The texture becomes visible, its tactility can be read.”
H24 is complex, romantic, and advanced. Starting with its name the “H” stands for “Hermès,” “homme,” “human,” and “hour,” while “24” represents the house’s historic address, 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and the 24 hours in a day.
Outside, the bottle’s exterior is as much an exercise in glassmaking as it is in protecting fragrance. The aerodynamic design by Philippe Mouquet embodies the spirit and energy of today. The rhombus glass body, complete with a recyclable aluminum top, is refllable and held within a box made from entirely recycled and recyclable paper.
Inside, clary sage, narcissus, rosewood, and sclarene form the structure of the scent. Nagel’s dedication to using biotechnologies when possible allowed her to use clary sage as the scent’s backbone, narcissus for a bright accent, rosewood for a softer woody smell, and sclarene for a warn metallic touch. “I fnd in plants a natural refection of movement, of the resonance of rising sap. And in the hybridization of nature and new technologies, I see the vitality of creation,” said Nagel. “H24 was built around four raw materials in a quest for technicality and innovation.”
Nagel’s choice of clary sage illustrates the duality of the Hermès man and the remarkably precise work of Nichanian. Narcissus adds a lively, raw hit of green to the fragrance for natural modernity. Rosewood, a rare material in perfumery, adds an elegant, fresh botanical note. To complete this signature scent, a note of sclarene—an innovative synthetic molecule with a warm and sensual metallic scent—is added. According to Nagel, it evokes the aroma of Hermès’s sewing workshops, recalling the smell of hot irons on damp wool.
“Ever since I joined Hermès I have been inspired and nourished by the house and its inexhaustible supply of inspiring stories for us all,” said Nagel. “Drawing on its artisanal traditions, Hermès fosters exceptional creativity that is ambitious and bold. The strength and vitality of creation has always been one of the house’s major assets, and innovation is one of its cornerstones. H24 is emblematic of this approach, of this quest for quality and balance that is as contemporary as it is virtuous.”
H24 moves away from outdated masculine stereotypes, while offering a plant-based formula. This emphasis is a natural progression for the house, but one that was not guided by time. With the freedom to choose themes and raw materials, she is able to take her time, producing a fragrance such as H24 for the men of today. “It is bold and risky, admittedly, but the house and I are very comfortable with it,” she said. For H24, this resulted in a formula that was formed entirely by nature, encouraging men to embrace their intrinsic, creative style without confning it.